No really! That’s the argument. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In January I wrote how for-profit publishers had hired an infamous PR firm to run a campaign against open access publishing. They’ve now produced an organization called PRISM (Partnership for Research Integrity in Science & Medicine!) which is campaigning against Open Access. Coturnix has a comprehensive roundup of the reaction. I thought I’d look at one of the articles PRISM offers in support of their case. Alan Caruba — “Open Access” or Covert Propaganda? who writes:
In his book, “State of Fear”, author Michael Crichton appended an opinion entitled “Why Politicized Science is Dangerous,” and cautioned against, “a social program masquerading as a scientific one”, citing the widespread eugenics movement in the early part of the last century.
“A second example of politicized science is quite different in character,” warned Crichton. “It exemplifies the hazard of government ideology controlling the work of science, and of uncritical media promoting false concepts.” Just as eugenics drew praise and support from politicians, academicians, and media in its time, so too has the manufactured crisis of global warming today.
What? I hear you asking. What has global warming got to do with open access? Well, open access gives folk better access to all the studies that find support for the theory that we are warming the planet. No really. That’s his argument. Check it out:
We paid for it, so why shouldn’t We the People have access to it? The problem is that We the People don’t get to decide what gets researched and what doesn’t. Furthermore, We the People rarely have the scientific training and knowledge to grasp the implications of such research. That’s why serious journals, at considerable expense, publish peer-reviewed studies for their peers rather than Joe Sixpack.
Moreover, hardly a day goes by when a headline screams from the pages of some newspaper that some study has concluded that the Earth is doomed or everything you breathe, eat or drink will kill you. The public has been bombarded for years with bad reporting about bad scientific research, a trend “open access” would only compound.
This innocent sounding bill might better be called “The Advancement of Junk Science Act of 2006.”
All the government-funded studies, whether having merit or redolent with hidden agendas, would be available to become a platform by which various social agendas would be advanced.
Because the one thing holding those social agendarists is the fee for reading a closed access paper…
This bill literally forces publishers of medical, scientific and scholarly journals, which invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year in their publications, to give away their work. There is something inherently wrong in that. The Open Access bill is, in this respect, an unconstitutional “taking” of intellectual property by the federal government.
But, the research was paid for by the federal government, not by the journal publishers. They are not taking anything from the journal publishers.
So, what starts out appearing to be a reasonable mandate based on federal funding turns out to be bad news for everyone; from those doing the research to those publishing the research. Ultimately the unskilled consumers of “open access” could also be at risk inasmuch as they are unaware of whether the material they’re reading has any real merit.
There are some simple rules that you can use to detect material with no real merit. One is to see if the author is Alan Caruba:
A government that commits boneheaded mistakes every day should not be in the business of requiring what research should be openly available while it competes against private research that may well be of far superior merit.